Bad With Faces, Good With Names [en]

[fr] Je suis très peu physionomiste mais dès qu'on me donne un nom, je sais exactement qui vous êtes. Pensez-y la prochaine fois qu'on se croise en vitesse quelque part, à une conférence par exemple!

I have a problem. I am really bad at recognizing faces. Really very bad. Bordering on hopeless.

This makes social occasions like conferences very difficult for me, because people keep coming up to me, saying hello, and though their face might seem familiar, I have not the slightest idea who they are.

Even with people I know, it’s sometimes difficult. My good friend Kevin Marks came up to me to say hi this morning, and it took me 4 excruciatingly long seconds to recognize him.

One might think that it’s because I meet too many people, or have too many people in my network, and can’t keep up. I’m happy to say it isn’t the case — I haven’t reached such a celeb status, luckily.

How do I know that?

I know that because the moment the person who just walked up to me gives me their name, I know exactly who they are.

I am deadly good with names.

That’s why I like conference badges.

The way I explain this to myself is that my “internal database” of people I know has an index on the name column, and not the face one. It’s as if I were “colour-blind to faces”.

I’m really good at remembering people, actually. I just need names.

8 thoughts on “Bad With Faces, Good With Names [en]

  1. I’ve always thought the very first thing I’d want in my augmented reality glasses/heads-up-display/retinal implant would be people’s names floating above their heads. Possibly with a few tags like “friend”, “crush” or “creditor” 🙂

  2. I know just what you mean; I have the same problem, but in reverse. I see someone with whom I was at school 20 years ago – and haven’t seen since – and I know precisely who they are… but it takes minutes for me to remember their name. If I can remember at all.

    You’re the one with the pink hair, right? 🙂

  3. I am exactly like you! So next time I meet you in a conference I’ll make sure I’m wearing a name badge. 🙂

  4. I am exactly the same way! Most people are the other way around, and there are a lot of suggestions for mnemonic devices to help. Has anyone found a similar type of method for us good-with-names-bad-with-faces folks?

  5. lol Wow, I thought I was the only one. It seems as though everyone I query says that they can remember faces but names always elude them. Opposite for me. I can remember a person’s name for years but it takes many times for me to remember their face. I think it’s either something to do with concentrating on other features when they speak, or I’m just not good with facial recognition. Either way, nice to know there’s more of us out there!

  6. I am the same. Once someone tells me their name I remember them very clearly. I am so embarrassed I forgot them I will repeat conversations back to them from the last time we talked (I remember that well). I work the front desk at a yoga studio the same day every week, I see the same people over and over and it takes 3 meetings minimum before I begin to recognize their faces.

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